Two small words. One big idea.
Google is a noun that became so synonymous with information in our society that it turned into a colloquial verb. Add the pronoun “it,” and you’re left with a phrase that can lead you to just about every answer to any question you’ve ever had.
Actors in “Star Wars Episode 7.” Healthy green smoothie recipes. How to get rid of dog fleas. Yoga studios in L.A. Coffee shops near me….
According to internet live stats, “Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average (visualize them here), which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.”
With that much information floating around the Web, how can you possibly get your website to stand out? How can you get your service or product to be one of the “answers” at the top of the page?
This is where SEO comes in. Search Engine Optimization is an invaluable tool that affects the visibility of your site or individual web page in a search engine’s (think Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) list of results.
It is important to mention that SEO focuses on organic search results, not paid ones. By implementing SEO in your site’s content correctly, your page will move up on the list free of charge! There is no other marketing tool with such a low price tag and such a magnificent outcome.
So, how do you do it? And what is it exactly?
SEO is a way of dissecting and looking at every aspect of your site from overall design and hierarchy of information to writing specific content and paying attention to links.
In a sense, everything that goes into your site is being optimized with one goal in mind: to boost traffic from your target audience to your business, service, blog, whatever. To be sure this happens, the first step is to decide what keywords your target audience would be typing into the search engine.
For example, let’s say that you own a massage therapy practice in San Francisco, California. When you begin to brainstorm for SEO content, you would make a list of possible keywords that your target audience may search. The list could look like the following:
You get the picture.
A simple way to think about SEO is to compare it to a matching game. If you know that “massage therapy near Fisherman’s Wharf” is a likely candidate for what your clients would search for, then you want to be sure to incorporate these words in key places throughout your site.
When Google or any other search engine combs through your site, it will register these keywords as a match for the search and pop you into a high result spot.
**It is important to note that although all search engines work similarly, Google is a leader in the SEO game, coming up constantly with innovative algorithms that detect exact keyword matches as well as synonyms. This means that on top of picking up exact words, Google is starting to be able to infer meaning behind similar word matches. Therefore, we may mention the use of Google search more than others in this article.**
The matching of a searched keyword to content in your site is one piece of the puzzle. It is important to have such words incorporated into your pages, but does it matter where they are located?
The short answer is it does.
Search engines will rank the hierarchy of each page from most important to least important information like an outline format. This helps them decipher the page in a way that they can quickly generate search results for their users.
The page title or main headline is the most important player in this matching game, followed by the subtitle, paragraph header and first paragraph down through the last one.
Making sure that you get those SEO buzzwords somewhere in the title or subtitle is important in ranking high on search results, so placement is a close second in importance to correct keyword usage.
Let’s go back to the example. If I know that “massage therapy near Fisherman’s Wharf” is a hot search for my clients, I may construct the page to look something like this:
As you can see, I made sure to incorporate versions of that keyword phrase into the title, subtitle and first paragraph. I also peppered in some locator tags to snag search results in surrounding areas which, especially when dealing with cities, can be helpful.
Now that we’ve talked about how to select and incorporate SEO keywords into our content, let’s look at the more technical side of things.
According to Search Engine Journal, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, 68% of which use Google to do so. This means that if you’re missing out on search traffic, you could be excluding your site from the majority of your potential audience so let’s take a look at some things you can do on-page that can boost your SEO ranking.
Content Consultant Neil Patel says “On-page SEO concerns all of Google’s ranking factors that are determined by directly looking at the page you try to optimize, such as headlines, content and page structure.”
Patel breaks on-page SEO into three categories: content, HTML and architecture. Let’s take a brief look at each.
This is numero uno because Google’s main objective is to direct its customers to what it believes to be the best content for their search. Google will focus on content that exhibits:
Patel compares owning a business and not knowing HTML basics with driving on the road without knowing what the colors of light signals signify. Broken up into four parts, HTML is a crucial focus when optimizing your SEO.
Site architecture involves things like mobile-friendly design (aka responsive design), loading times and safe connections – all of which Google takes into consideration when ranking its results. Some things to consider:
You can find great detail on all of these aspects by doing a little research (ironically, on Google!), but there is a lot to learn. With plugins and added features on template generators such as WordPress, you can easily get through it by only knowing the basics.
If you hope to dig in further, web design companies like us can help you with every step, taking over the bulk of it so that you only have to worry about the need-to-knows.
Off-page SEO is largely out of your hands, but it is still important to know how it works because it affects your rankings.
Digital Marketing Consultant Shane Barker has a great infographic where you can digest all of this information visually, but let’s look at some of the most important off-page SEO factors.
Black-hat SEO is the get in, get out quick of the marketing world. Sure, it may increase traffic to your site, but it will do nothing for the quality of your brand over time.
Black-hat SEO is when you optimize your site taking into consideration only the search engines and not your human audience.
This type of SEO approach winds up using spammy, robotic language that will ultimately crush your site’s chances of getting views and, although you may rank as a high search result quickly, it will not last and is not a sustainable business practice.
You want to use white-hat SEO, which focuses on providing your audience with the best experience possible and the most valuable content according to the specs that will get you higher on search engine result pages (SERPs).
As you can see here, learning about SEO is somewhat like reading a never-ending story, and to top it off, things are constantly changing in the marketing world with daily innovations.
You don’t have to be a know-it-all. You most likely don’t want to go back to school to learn programming, and you are certainly busy running a business. But, you do need to be aware of the power of online marketing and the wonders that it can do for your profits long-term.
You wouldn’t want to make a bad investment with your company’s finances so don’t make one with your company’s future. Build these relationships now, take the time to learn SEO basics and above all, keep your users in the forefront of your decision-making process, and you will reap the benefits.
Trust us, SEO is the sharpest tool in your marketing tool belt. If you still need help honing the blade, contact us and tell us a little about your project.
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